Age proofing your eyesight is a continuous process that is best when started early in life but can be implemented at any age for eye health benefits. The rate in which our eyes age can be reduced if we are mindful of what increases age-related eye diseases and what slows the eye-aging process. For instance, once UVA/UVB damage to the eye occurs it’s often not reversible.
The likelihood of good vision throughout the lifespan is increased by practicing these six areas of protection as early as possible; good nutrition, exercise, sun protection, avoid smoking, limit drinking, and get annual comprehensive eye exams with your Highline optometrist.
Dr. Tom Cruse, Colorado Optometric Association’s Board President says, “The more annual comprehensive eye exams that you can attend as you age translates to having a much higher chance of early detection and can equate to avoiding issues later in life that include low vision issues, blindness or even loss of life. Live that healthy lifestyle and see your optometrist regularly for the best chance at age proofing your eyesight.”
- Annual Comprehensive Eye Exams: It’s simple, just because you don’t have any symptoms does NOT mean you should skip your annual comprehensive eye exam. Many vision threatening eye diseases such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, cataracts, or diabetic retinopathy have no or minimal symptoms until the disease has progressed. Early detection is key to slowing progress, managing disease, and saving vision.
Optometrists look at a lot more than just your visual acuity in a comprehensive exam and can even detect other health issues such as autoimmune conditions, allergies, medication complications, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and more.
- Regular Exercise: Regular exercise is helpful across the board for your general health, but it’s also essential for keeping your vision from diminishing. One study of more than 15,000 people discovered that individuals who exercised and drank occasionally had less vision loss over a 20-year period than individuals who did not exercise and did not drink.1 This finding outlines the importance of exercise. Find the exercise that works for you whether it’s walking, hiking, running, swimming, weightlifting, or the countless other ways to get movement in.
- Good Nutrition: When choosing what to eat throughout your day make sure you’re getting the nutrients that promote healthy eyes. To support your eye health and reduce eye disease risks choose foods rich in vitamins C and E, zinc, lutein, zeaxanthin, and omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA. If you have already been diagnosed with an eye disease check with your optometrist to understand which foods can support your eye health and which foods can provoke your symptoms or even speed up the progression of the disease. Your eye doctor may even prescribe a nutritional supplement to support your eye health. More nutritional information.
- Consistent Sun Protection: Sun exposure can increase your risk of cataracts and if you have blue eyes and fair skin your risk of cataracts is even higher. Once sun damage of the eye occurs, the long-term impact is not reversible making sunglasses more important than most people think. The Colorado sun is bright due to the elevation and the intense sun reflecting off of snow or water. Grab a pair of 100% UVA/UVB blocking sunglasses to safeguard your eye health and wear them when outside. Pair your sunglasses with a hat for even more UV protection since sunlight can slip in through the side of your glasses. Start your kids off right by protecting their eyes early on. Bonus, tiny sunglasses are cute!
- Continue to Avoid Smoking or Quit Smoking If You’ve Started: The truth is that smoking tobacco increases the risk of age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and dry eye syndrome. Many of these diseases can lead to vision loss or blindness. ARMD is the leading cause of blindness and studies show that smokers have up to four times the risk of developing ARMD. If you’ve been unsuccessful at smoking cessation keep trying and get support such as using the Colorado QuitLine, a free support program for Colorado residents. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or Enroll today.
- Limit Alcohol Intake: It’s common knowledge that alcohol can impact your vision during use. The long-term effects of alcohol consumption can include increased risk of cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, and optic neuropathy. Heavy drinking can impact your body’s ability to absorb vitamins and nutrients, which are needed for proper eye health.
Article courtesy of 2020 Eyes Colorado.